- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

Perhaps they had just eaten the ears off of too many chocolate Easter bunnies.Thats the kindest explanation for the A section of The Washington Post on Monday in which readers found a hysterical headline, "Study of Plants makes a Case for Biodiversity," and an even more hysterical front-page story by Dana Milbank and Eric Pianin comparing President Bushs energy task force to Hillary Rodham Clintons health-care task force.

According to the reporters, "The Bush administration´s energy task force is something of a secret society." They suggest, "To close followers of government, the shroud of secrecy … is precisely the approach taken by Hillary Rodham Clinton´s health care task force," since, "Both focused on complex, divisive issues that pitted consumers against industry. And both administrations sought to keep their subject confidential to keep the public´s attention on other matters and to prevent opposition from organizing."

Yet "close followers of government" may have observed a bit of the extensive media coverage that the energy task force has received since it was publicly commissioned by Mr. Bush on Jan. 29 (including a page 2A story in The Post on Jan. 30). They may also have heard of at least a few of the members of the Bush energy task force, many of whom are Cabinet members and all of whom, (unlike some of the members of Hillary´s health brigade, including Hillary herself) are government employees. Although this might be hard for reporters of The Post to believe, close followers of government may even have read the very public statements of those very public officials, including Mr. Bush, on the energy crisis, not the least of which was an oped "Our Energies are in the Right Place," by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, which appeared in The Post on the same day as the Milbank-Pianin story.

The two reporters could have also pointed out that Mr. Bush has encountered fierce, organized opposition from environmental groups almost from the day he began running for office in Texas. They could have also mentioned the fact that no one on the Bush team is talking about nationalizing a massive chunk of the national economy, although they did quote Lawrence B. Lindsey, the president´s chief economic adviser and (shhh!) a member of the energy task force, who said, "We´re not out to reengineer the nation´s electric system."

Indeed, the members of the Bush energy task force seem to be attempting to build an energy policy that is both pro-green and pro-growth. To that end, members have met with a wide array of both industry groups and environmental groups, including the National Defense Resources Council, the Defenders of Wildlife and the World Wildlife Federation. Despite the contrarian precedent set by the Clinton health brigade, the Bush team seems to believe that there may be room for compromises on policy.

Perhaps the most important difference between the two task forces is that no one on the Bush team is channeling policy from Eleanor Roosevelt.

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